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The Empire Hath Fallen

 

I remember back in the 1990s, when shows would air, I never heard the phrase “mid-season finale.” Now, it’s normal. November and early December are when most shows decide to take a break and return around mid-winter when people are actually glued to their TV’s again after the holidays. This means that most shows leave us on cliff-hangers that have us talking for weeks until the show returns.

I wish I could say that I would be positively talking about Empire from now until March 30, 2016 when it returns from hiatus.

Empire is nothing short of a mess these days. A highly clichéd disaster if I am being completely honest. I started out the season with high hopes; the first batch of episodes hit the mark and followed the successful formula that was season 1 but then somewhere around Hakeem’s kidnapping, something got lost. Perhaps there are signs of deep trouble creatively behind the scenes? If so, then it’s showing on screen because last night’s episode had me cringing and questioning what I love about Emprie these days.

Firstly, let’s talk about the mess that is Jamal and Skye (Alicia Keys). Anyone with 20/20 vision saw that coming, with Jamal basically regretting hooking up with her. I think what made me want to turn the television off more was Jamal’s acting and dialogue. I understand that this is a show catering mostly to an African American demographic but why does Jamal sound like he never opened a book a day in his life? To make the cringefest worse, the entire storyline was worse than New York City’s trash problem in the 1980s. It came so left field that it didn’t even feel like a twist at all. Also, there was a small scene in which Skye was singing and saw Jamal talking to some guy and then she had the nerve to ask him who the guy was later on. Like, can he not just have a conversation with another man without it appearing as if he’s about to drop his pants? It left a bad taste in my mouth quite honestly.

Cookie has been absent from my reviews lately because quite frankly, I don’t really understand what the writers are trying to do with her. The Laz Delgado (Adam Rodriquez) storyline wrapped up in the last episode, so she’s free from that, but I was left wondering just what is happening with her. In this episode, she returned to the prison where she spent 17 years of her life and she had flashbacks to what she went through. This worked in the first couple of episodes of the season, but now just seemed forced and badly written. I found myself no longer interested in the path she’s on because I don’t get it and if anyone else does, then more power to you.

Hakeem was on fire for a few episodes. I was amazed at the growth his character was displaying, but these last two episodes have me returning to my dislike of the character in season 1. The hatred he has against Lucious is so laughable that I find myself wondering how Lee Daniels allows this stuff to air. Oh, while I mention him, I might as well mention the black sheep that is Andre. He’s once again shunted into the background; they might as well make him a recurring character.

Anika (Grace Gealey)…*sigh*. I am disturbed at how ridiculous this storyline is. That little “twist” at the end wasn’t a twist at all because, as I said above about Jamal and Skye, ANYONE without eyes saw it coming and what fun is it when you already know what’s going to happen before it does? I used to love not seeing these twists coming and actually being caught off guard by how clever and well written it all was. Those days are long gone.

Now, Lucious was in some real hot water during the episode and, yet again, I found myself going “yup…saw this coming.” He was voted out of Empire by Mimi (Marisa Tomei) with a devious plan she had been setting up all season. If this wasn’t all poorly written and executed, I’d go into more detail, but my fingers are telling me not to waste my time typing it all up. All in all, another season 1 character made a comeback as part of this plot against Lucious; Camilla (Naomi Campbell) who was Hakeem’s ex. Again, not bothering to go into more depth with this because why bother?

So, all in all, not one of Empire’s best roll-outs. The show’s quality is evaporating faster than the polar ice caps and once shows start to go that route, it’s only a matter of time before viewership slips and it gets the dreaded cancellation. If Empire wants to stay afloat, I suggest revisiting season 1 and tapping into the gold mine that made the show such a smash hit to begin with.

 

Produced By: Lee Daniels, Danny Strong

Written By: Radha Blank

Starring: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Malik Yoba, Kaitlin Doubleday, Gabourey Sidibe, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Serayah

Distributed By: FOX

Original Air Date: December 2, 2015

Run Time: 43 minutes

Rating: TV-MA

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